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The divorce experience why is it so "brutal"

33 replies

Sweetsecret · 10/07/2015 12:44

I have been reading in other post at how brutal divorce can be, even when it has started being amicable. Would anyone be willing to share your experiences (obviously if it isn't too difficult) I have been seperated for three months, and although I am not ready make that leap yet, I just want to know what sort of things can crop up that can make it go from being amicable to being brutal. we have 2 DC'S, don't own a property (thankgod).
I just don't know what to expect and I am bit scared but would rather know what I am in for if that makes sense? Thanks everyone.Thanks

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namechangingspecimen · 10/07/2015 13:20

Just wanted to say I'm in a similar position, newly separated, 2 DC, only rented accommodation. It's very early days for me, not even a month, and I'm terrified of screwing up the DCs. STBX now doesn't want to split, and now it's all messing with my head.

WaltJunior · 10/07/2015 13:27

I'm interested too as I'm about to leave & want to stay amicable for dcs sake. My friend went through this & she said you have to put up an emotional wall, she thought they could remain friends but obviously the resentment & bitterness that came out tainted that

Sweetsecret · 10/07/2015 13:35

It is difficult isn't it? I was left too so it's not something I want at all, but I think it's time I started to think about it all rather than wish it would just go away.Sad

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Sweetsecret · 10/07/2015 13:42

Yes Walt, that's what I hear, you start out being amicable possibly friends and the divorce proceedings start and it all goes out of the window and you end up hating eachother and only communicating through solicitors, I am curious as to why this happens. Besides the emotion part which is horrendous, I have seen it happen so many times its scary.Sad

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MirandaWest · 10/07/2015 13:51

I have an alternative experience to offer - XH and I split up 4 years ago, with his affair being the catalyst to the end of our relationship. We have two DC and have stayed amicable for their sake as both of us care a lot about the children. After two years, XH initiated the divorce, as we are both able to amicably discuss arrangements for the children and had hardly any assets between us (no house ownership and low levels of pension) we did the divorce without the involvement of any solicitors, and discussed between us things to do with the children.
Still amicable (well I think he's a bit daft in general and do wonder sometimes why I married him but there's nothing intrinsically bad about him) and I imagine things will carry on that way.

OhNoNotMyBaby · 10/07/2015 13:52

it fell apart for me when exH moved out and despite having agreed to pay child maintenance, didn't. Neither did he pay for either of the 2 mortgages we had. then he held me and the children to ransom, leaving us homeless.

He was an utter, complete total shit. This is of no help to you at all though.
He put his spite, vitriol, desire for revenge etc above the needs of his children. So I guess the only advice I can offer is that you both try to put the children's needs first. But you can't change people's characters.

I think it happens because in times of huge stress people react in different ways and you don't know what those ways will be. Some people cave in. One man I know going through a divorce is paralysed by immobility (not physically). He literally cannot put the house on the market - even though the divorces has been finalised. ..

I do think our system has a lot to do with it. We absolutely, desperately need a no fault process.

Newbrummie · 10/07/2015 13:57

My only advice is do it quickly before everyone else gets involved, believe me they will.
Heck you can re marry him again if you want to but the long it goes on the worse it is for you and the DC's and any kindness will result in you getting screwed in my experience, be fast and selfish.

Sweetsecret · 10/07/2015 13:58

Ah is that what it could be? that you have to start putting blame on one party?

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WaltJunior · 10/07/2015 14:08

You can wait two years. Or to be divorced quicker you have to cite either unreasonable behaviour ( you need to provide examples which is going to be flaming) of adultery (and name the ow/om)
So I believe anyway...just leRning this stuff myself

WaltJunior · 10/07/2015 14:08

or adultery

Cambam2010 · 10/07/2015 14:22

It's not all doom and gloom. I parted from my ExH on amicable terms, we sold our house before the divorce and just split everything 50/50. We have 1DS(5) who lives with me. Maintenance payments were sorted out straight away. After 2 years I filed for divorce myself (ExH paid for it - only about £320 I think), no solicitors involved.

All very straight forward, we talk regularly about DS, he's even met my new DP.

It all comes down to how amicable you can be. I haven't got the energy to hold a grudge etc but I also know that I have a very reasonable ExH (shame we just couldn't get on when living together :-/ )

Spero · 10/07/2015 14:28

We do have a no fault process. You can divorce after two years separation if you both consent, five years if you don't. In my experience the bitterness of the split is compounded by arguing about money. That seems to turn the nicest people into unreasonable monsters.

Some people do argue about the grounds for the divorce but those that do are usually on track for an appalling experience throughout.

STIDW · 10/07/2015 18:08

IT doesn't necessarily have to be brutal. When we are in a relationship we tend to have an illusion and don't see the negatives. Unfortunately when relationships breakdown the opposite happens. There is a sort of distancing process where it's difficult to view a former partner in a positive light, a delusion is one way of describing it. It is possible to work through that and acquire more realistic views of each other so at least civility can be maintained. When both parties have readjusted to the emotional realities of separation (which may take some time) constructive progress may be made more quickly negotiating the arrangements for finances and children.

When communications poor and/or negotiations start from fixed opposed positions separating couples become more and more committed to their positions, continually restating and defending them. That's inefficient and makes reaching agreement difficult. A commitment to defending a position tends to lead to a lack of attention to the underlying interests. Therefore, if an agreement can be reached it will probably reflect a mechanical splitting of the difference between final positions. One party gains at the other's expense which creates bad feeling and the adversary "you v me" approach.

On the other hand if negotiations start first by identifying each parties' interests more collaborative solutions that address their concerns to some degree and meets the needs of children are more likely to be found. People are more likely to be satisfied with terms and adhere to mutually beneficial or win/win agreements.

For example, two children take the fixed position that they want the whole orange. An adult moderating the dispute based on their positions, cuts the orange in half and gives each child one half and neither child is happy. One child had wanted the flesh to eat and the other the peel to make a cake. Had the adult known their interests, each child could have both had all of what they wanted, rather than just half.

heidiwine · 11/07/2015 07:35

My DP is divorced and 8 years on its still brutal. I wasn't around at the time of the divorce but am still shocked by it. These would be my guidelines for avoiding brutality, unfortunately both parties need to sign up to them and therein lies the problem:

  1. GENUINELY put the children and their relationship with both of their parents at the heart of every decision. Continually ask yourself if you're staying true to that (even long after the divorce is over)
  2. Be continuously fair and reasonable about money and aim to be personally independent (either immediately or soon after divorce)
  3. respect the children's time with the other parent (even if you don't actually respect the other parent)
  4. communicate honestly and maturely (I think that communicating as though your ex is a work colleagues can help take the emotion it of it)
  5. most importantly never ever involve the children (regardless of their age) in any parental disputes

    That's it. Good luck.
Spero · 11/07/2015 08:32

Good list heidiwine. Sadly I make my living (family lawyer) off all the people who pour all their energies into creating and maintaining a vendetta with their ex and often deliberately use the children to make their points.

I am not judging; went through a separation myself about six years ago and it is absolutely horrible. Not only are you dealing with the mess, stress and fuss of the present but you also have to mourn the loss of a future you hoped you would have, as well as looking back on the past and seeing it tainted by what you know now.

Another big factor I think is that in 99% of breakups, one person is much further down the road of emotional acceptance than the other; for some people it comes out of the blue that their partner wants to leave and the shock is immense.

Its not difficult to see why so many divorces are so toxic and I do often think that there needs to be more recognition of this. I hear a lot of Judges telling people just to grow up and sort it out; which is all very well but difficult to do when you are swimming in a sea of despair and fear.

however, I do think you can get to the other side - if you want to. But it takes a lot longer than most people think who haven't gone through it. In my case, it took about five years to feel ok again, whereas all the 'self help' books I read said 'normal grief' was 12-18 months! I think that is rubbish. Maybe 12-18 months to get over the initial shock, but i think it can easily take another few years to fully process and accept what has happened.

heidiwine · 11/07/2015 11:16

Out of interest Spero, what do you think the solution is?
I don't know how workable it is but I think divorce should be taken out of the court process and that a panel of independent intermediaries should review the facts and make decisions on finances and contact without the direct involvement of either party (except to provide the facts).
My DP was the party who was not emotionally prepared for his divorce. He was being treated for depression and at the time would have signed up to anything because he couldn't see any sort of future for himself. Now that he is stronger there is very little he could do to challenge it simply because of the stress it would cause to all parties (including the children). Had the whole settlement been decided by an independent panel rather than negotiated through mediation we would all (IMO) be in a better position . As it is we are financially bound to his ex wife for life and that is unhealthy for everyone.

Sweetsecret · 11/07/2015 16:54

Thankyou spero, that makes a lot of sense. Yes I am the one who is dealing with this as the "it's so raw" aspect my H moved on years ago apparently , so he seems to be fine.
I hope we can be amicable so far we have been.
But I am feeling it, I gave up my career to raise the kids stopped paying into my pension etc, while he built his career and paid into a nice pension, which I won't benefit from now.
Feel a bit like a mug really. I don't want to be one of these women who takes their H to the cleaners, but financially I am really on the back foot compared to him.Sad

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Spero · 11/07/2015 20:34

Interesting question about possible solutions.

FWIW, from my perspective, the toxic mess into which proceedings often slip is frequently blamed on the lawyers and the court process.

I am not so sure about that. the sense of loss, fear and abandonment often seems so great that I suspect it will infect and derail any kind of official process. I think - after many years deliberation - that the key is educating our children about relationships and lessening the societal/individual pressure to couple up at any costs. We seem very emotionally illiterate as a society and often seem to fall in love/get married/have a baby with very little thought and discussion about where we might be ten years down the line.

Probably much, much easier said than done! But I should NEVER have had a child with my ex. We were obviously not suited and neither of us had dealt with our past issues. But I was pushing 35 and felt as if it was now or never. Thank god we never got married as I am sure that would have added an whole horrible other layer of trauma to the sorry mess.

But I am not sure I could have usefully engaged with any kind of process to unravel our relationship for at least a couple of years post split.

Spero · 11/07/2015 20:38

heidiwine - your comments re mediation, I am sorry your DP went through that.

But that isn't a criticism of the whole process of mediation, it is a criticism of that particular example. I am sorry that someone thought it was worthwhile mediating with your DP suffering from depression and just wanting to 'get it over with'.

I am a trained mediator and I would be very, very uneasy about trying to conduct a mediation if one party was unwell or under significant pressure.

Mediation can be great but only if both parties come to it willingly and with full understanding. If the power balance is skewed I don't think mediation works and has the potential to be abusive.

Spero · 11/07/2015 20:47

OP, it probably won't be much comfort, but you are definitely not alone.

The key is I think not to let understandable bitterness derail your present and your future. Again, much easier said than done.

but if you gave up work to look after the children, this should be reflected in a the share of the assets between you, given the damage to your earning potential/pension

I note you don't own property so I assume the pension is the biggest asset - you certainly should be thinking about getting an order to share his pension. (and that is what triggers nastiness very often as men (for it is almost always men) get very possessive about 'their' pension and seem unable to understand that their wife has contributed by raising the children. You are fully entitled to be compensated for what you have lost in terms of earnings/pension)

My dad's favourite saying is 'you never see the torn lining of another man's coat' which is just a weirder way of saying 'don't judge your insides by someone else's outsides'.

You can never really know what is going on with another person. I do believe in karma - if you consistently treat people shabbily you are going to end up lonely and miserable because at some point you will run out of people prepared to put up with it.

Sweetsecret · 11/07/2015 23:00

Thankyou spero, you have hit the nail on the head. I think my ex is a reasonable man, we will soon find out if I go down the pension route. I really appreciate your input. Thankyou.

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heidiwine · 12/07/2015 16:11

Thank you Spero - very interesting.
OP I wish you all the best and hope for a fair outcome so that you can begin to move on to a happier chapter.

TheFormidableMrsC · 12/07/2015 17:28

This is a very interesting thread for me. I am also grateful for Spero's contribution as a lawyer.

My experience has been very negative. Like Spero, I should never have had a child with my ex. I was in my 40's and he is autistic (as I believe my ex is). We had a long marriage. He walked out and cut us off completely in every way. Within a few days I had discovered that he had sacked me from our business (illegally and against the advice of the accountant), he had removed his name from all the utilities, cancelled the burglar alarm contract, stolen money from the children by selling their shares, cancelled mobile phone contracts (even my DS's, she was 14). He stopped paying the mortgage. He told me I would be going on benefits as his solicitor advised "that was best". He ran up a huge directors loan entertaining OW and doing alterations to her property, he had flying lessons. I could go on and on. I made huge sacrifices in terms of my career and freedom for this twat and he totally totally abandoned us. He has since halved child maintenance as he uses it as a weapon against me rather than considering the needs of his son.

I self repped in court. Won 100% of the marital assets and a nominal order. Managed to get OW in court too. The lengths they went to were astonishing and they were treated with contempt by the court. We are nearly 2 years down the line and it's still ongoing and I am still not divorced. I managed to file for divorce on the grounds of his adultery, taking the petition to court myself and handing it over after I received an utterly astonishing petition via his solicitor for my "unreasonable behaviour". I was threatened by OW and her solicitors for daring to implicate her! Hmm

The emotional fallout has been huge. I am struggling to recover and know that this has changed me irrevocably. The man I fell in love with didn't exist. He and OW continue to make my lives a misery day in and day out. My children are deeply affected and we are fearful for our future. We have had social services and police involvement and my children and OW's DS are subject to a MARAC referral. It has been utterly horrific.

If I could rewind, I would have jumped on the finances immediately. I would have immediately sought help from the court, as it was I wasn't ready to do that for a year. I would have done everything differently and cut him off there and then and gone NC. Our relationship will never recover from this, we will never be able to co-parent and I will have to move to get away from him.

I am sorry to sound so negative, but to the OP please bear this in mind that Mr Reasonable can suddenly become Mr Horror Story within a few short days. I wish you lots of luck and a peaceful divorce, it's so tough, it really is Flowers

TheFormidableMrsC · 12/07/2015 17:31

Oh and in terms of mediation..we had two sessions, the whole sorry thing ended when ex screwed up a cheque and threw it at the mediator when she told him he would have to disclose "everything" and so would OW. His idea of settlement was a life insurance policy that would pay out on his death Hmm. No thought to how I was to pay the mortgage, bring up the children etc etc and it's a hole I am going to find very difficult to climb out of.

Mediation will only work if you're both prepared and understand the process.

Sweetsecret · 12/07/2015 22:23

Thanks for your honesty formidable, I am so very sorry for what an awful time you have had. Yes, I believe he is reasonable right now, but I am totally on my guard that may change.
And Thankyou Heidi, I hope I can move forward. I think I may have turned a corner over the last few days, before I was really missing him and was so sad. Now I get irratated by him when I see him, and just want him to leave ASAP, I obviously don't show the kids this, as far as they are concerned we are best buds. onwards and upwards.Thanks

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